Crop-regulation techniques applied as preflowering defoliation (D), early cluster thinning at preflowering (ECT), and cluster thinning at lag-phase of berry growth (LCT) were tested over three seasons on high-yielding Vitis vinifera L. Sangiovese and compared to non-defoliated, unthinned control vines. Treatment severity consisted of removing primary leaves and any laterals developed from nodes 1 to 6 in D and of thinning 50% of clusters chosen from among distal clusters or those inserted on weak shoots in ECT and LCT plots. Although yield per vine was not as reduced in D (−32%) as in ECT and LCT treatments (−45%) as compared to the control, D vines also had largely improved sugar and total anthocyanin concentrations and the highest total phenolics. Yield components were also markedly affected by treatments: D vines had smaller clusters and berries, leading to improved cluster looseness and to higher relative skin and seed growth. While all crop-regulating treatments led to an increase in the final leaf-to-fruit ratio, parameters of technological maturity were essentially uncoupled, as equally high Brix levels corresponded to the highest titratable acidity in D and, conversely, to lowest titratable acidity and highest pH in ECT and LCT. Overall results showed that different final yield-grape composition patterns can be reached depending on the technique used for crop regulation as a primary consequence of a diversified degree of compensation triggered on single-yield components.
- ©2012 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture